Kingsley Amis



A Bookshop Idyll



Between the gardening and the cookery

    Comes the brief poetry shelf;

By the Nonesuch Donne, a thin anthology

    Offers itself.


Critical, and with nothing else to do,

    I scan the Contents page,

Relieved to find the names are mostly new;

    No one my age.


Like all strangers, they divide by sex:

    Landscape near Parma

Interests a man, so does The Double Vortex,

    So does Rilke and Buddha.


'I travel, you see', 'I think' and 'I can read'

    These titles seem to say;

But I Remember You, Love is my Creed,

    Poem for J.,


The ladies' choice, discountenance my patter

    For several seconds;

From somewhere in this (as in any) matter

    A moral beckons.


Should poets bicycle-pump the human heart

    Or squash it flat?

Man's love is of man's life a thing apart;

    Girls aren't like that.


We men have got love well weighed up; our stuff

    Can get by without it.

Women don't seem to think that's good enough;

    They write about it,


And the awful way their poems lay open

    Just doesn't strike them.

Women are really much nicer than men:

    No wonder we like them.


Deciding this, we can forget those times

    We sat up half the night

Chockfull of love, crammed with bright thoughts,

    names, rhymes,

    And couln't write.